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McDowell County 4-H’ers to represent West Virginia at national conference

Girl in green hoodie wearing latex gloves holds up a test tube.

In March, three West Virginia 4-H’ers from McDowell County will travel to the Ignite by 4-H conference in Washington D.C. to teach a STEM activity with West Virginia’s “Space Gal” Emily Calandrelli.

Two ninth grade students, Abagail Diaz and Jasmine Fowler, as well as one 10th grader, Chelsy Atwell, were chosen to lead this activity based on their exemplary records of excellence in STEM and leadership in 4-H.

“I am so proud of these girls. This is an opportunity for them to present at a national level to more than 300 youths from across the country, with somebody who is nationally known in this field,” Kayla Boerboom, West Virginia University 4-H Extension agent in McDowell County, said. “To get to do this as ninth and tenth graders is just awesome, I am so excited for them.”

Atwell, Diaz and Fowler have all become strong leaders in the McDowell County 4-H program, Boerboom explained. They have each participated in WVU Extension’s Eureka STEM Camp, attended space and code camps, and volunteered at younger 4-H camps in their county.

“It feels amazing to not only witness the conference but also be a part of it and to be able to make this experience more amazing for other teens as well,” said Diaz. “4-H has helped me see the amazing different options in life and pushed me to fall in love with technology and learning how things work.” 

Leading up to the conference, these youths will meet with Emily Calandrelli to plan their presentation. Once they arrive in D.C., they will have a final meeting with Calandrelli to run through their presentation and ensure they are ready to go.

A native West Virginian, Calandrelli is an esteemed science literacy advocate and engineer, as well as host and co-executive producer of the Netflix series “Emily’s Wonder Lab.” She is also an accomplished writer and speaker on the topics of space exploration, scientific literacy and equality. She will be the STEM keynote speaker at Ignite.

“I'm really grateful for this opportunity to work with Emily Calandrelli, it makes me feel even more excited to do this project because it’s so awesome to see a strong woman in the STEM field,” said Atwell. “I am most excited to get to go to Washington D.C., meet new people, present and learn some new things.”

This conference provides high school students across the county the opportunity to explore the best that 4-H has to offer in STEM, agriscience and healthy living. Youths will explore various career paths, make connections with youths around the U.S. and create action plans to ignite change in their own communities.

“I am beyond excited to have such an opportunity at a national conference at such a young age. Although I’ve attended several academies and camps, this will be my first conference, and I am coming with nothing but positive energy,” said Fowler. “I cannot wait for the Ignite by 4-H conference! I am so eager to learn new things about a topic I love with friends and peers my age who have common interests.”

The group will present a STEM activity to all youths signed up for the STEM track at the conference. Their activity will be Mars escape mission themed, and participants must use coding to navigate the planet and complete the activity.

I’m really appreciative that some of our McDowell County girls get to go and represent West Virginia. I know they're going to do a great job because all three of them have hearts of gold, are ambitious, and love science and helping others,” said Boerboom.

To learn more about 4-H activities in your community and keep up with the latest in West Virginia 4-H news, follow @WestVirginia4H on Facebook and @wv_4h on Instagram. 

If you are interested in exploring 4-H activities and opportunities in your area, contact your local WVU Extension office

If you want to learn more about WVU Extension, visit or follow @WVUExtension on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.  



CONTACT: Sydney Keener

Communications Specialist

WVU Extension